This is a rush transcript from "Your World," June 25, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": Say it is so, Joe, because when it comes to the centerpiece of Arizona's crackdown on illegals, the Supreme Court all but thank Sheriff Joe Arpaio can indeed keep cracking down on them, at least when it comes to allowing authorities like the sheriff to demand they show their papers.
No doubt Joe likes that. Today, what Joe doesn't like, because Joe's here to talk about the pros and the cons of the decision that has much of the nation pretty much confused.
Welcome, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto.
And it is the most hotly debated part of that Arizona immigration law, a provision that requires police check the status of anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally.
The high court ruling that it is legal while leaving the door open to additional challenges.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer calling today's decision a victory for the rule of law, but did this ruling also tie my next guest's hands? It prohibits police, for example, from arresting suspect illegal immigrants without a warrant?
To Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on the high court's rather mixed message.
Sheriff, good to have you. Is it a mixed message, mixed blessings? How would you describe it?
JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA, SHERIFF: Yes, probably.
I'm for the 1070, but we've been doing this for four years anyway, and that's probably why they took me to federal court, the Obama administration, last month, knowing this 1070 was coming out. And, of course, the president has that DREAM Act situation.
But I'm concerned about whether the federal government will pick up the illegal aliens that law enforcement and my office come in contact with. In fact, I predicted this morning they won't, and I just hear that the Homeland Security said they're not going to pick up illegal aliens that the law enforcement comes in contact with on traffic stops.
Also, they took away all the 287-G from all law enforcement. Of course, they took away mine the day they announced that I was under investigation. So, there seems to be a war on Arizona over this illegal immigration problem.
CAVUTO: Well, there are a couple of issues you raised there. And I want to raise them in the order in which you raised them, Sheriff.
And one is the president and what he makes of this. He issued a statement today that no American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like.
Do you think that was a slap at you?
ARPAIO: Of course it is. I'm the poster boy. He mentioned me a few months ago at the White House. He didn't like what I was doing with the 1070.
But if he has that much concern, then stop them from coming into the United States because it's illegal to come into this country. So he ought to do something about that situation. On the other hand, we should enforce the laws in the interior, which most people are saying, including politicians, let's -- let's secure the borders, and then they say first.
Well, what about all the illegals that are in the interior? We're locking them up on human smuggling and raiding businesses, crime suppression's. And, by the way, I'm not stopping anything. I'm going to continue to enforce those state laws, regardless of what the federal government is trying to put pressure on me to satisfy all these activists, which, by the way, are in front of my building right now. Three-and-a-half years, they've been in front of my building.
So, I'm not going to bend to the federal government, especially when we still have state laws to enforce.
CAVUTO: I wonder whether the feds now might have a reason to put you or box you into a corner, Sheriff. And by that, I mean, the justices ruled unanimously in fact that you do have the right, you know, to ask folks for papers, for example, but that those same folks you might suspect of being illegal are not required to have those papers.
So, it's sort of like a catch-22. So, I thought in your case, Sheriff, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.
ARPAIO: No, the big point, Neil, is the fact. So, you can detect these people, the illegals, every hour on the hour, but if ICE doesn't accept them, what do you do with them?
CAVUTO: They stay, right? So, then what do you do?
ARPAIO: You dump them on the street.
CAVUTO: In that event, what do you do?
ARPAIO: Well, I have got a couple strategies in mind. I'm not going to reveal it now.
But we're going to continue to lock up the human smugglers, that raid businesses, crime suppression. I'm not stopping. I've got state laws that I can enforce.
CAVUTO: So, excuse my legal ignorance then, Sheriff. If you, let's say, stop a car, and you suspect that the driver or the occupants might be illegal, and you ask for papers, as the Supreme Court says you can, and they don't have any, any such papers, the Supreme Court says it kind of ends there, if I'm interpreting what they have decided today correctly. What does a Joe Arpaio do after that?
ARPAIO: Well, I'm going to tell you one thing I'm going to do if it's a state -- some type of criminal crime. They're going to jail. If they're illegal, OK, they're going to jail.
Number two, we're going to try to call ICE to take them off our hands, which they have been doing, great cooperation locally. They have been taking these illegal aliens off our hands, when we have no, no state charge against them.
But I predicted this will stop. And this is the first shot by taking away that cooperative 287-G program from all law enforcement in Arizona. They took away mine about two years ago, and then they took it away from our jail. So I can understand where they're going.
CAVUTO: Yes, but I do think it's got you in a bit of a limbo. I can feel for what you're now facing, because I don't know what you're facing.
But Governor Brewer, while she called the decision a victory for the rule of law, she went on to say, "I'm confident our officers are prepared to carry out this always responsibly and lawfully."
Back to this law, what you're carrying out, if you're allowed to ask for, let's say, identifying papers to prove you're a citizen or you're a legal resident of this country, and they're not required to have the paperwork? So it's sort of like, yes, you can ask, but they don't have to show because they don't have to have it.
ARPAIO: Well, that's not the point. Once again, if you've proved - - you have to go to the immigration to get intelligence.
CAVUTO: Yes, what if they have nothing to show you? The court seems to be saying, Sheriff, well, you know, that's -- that's a pass.
ARPAIO: Well, there's other criteria...
CAVUTO: Like what?
ARPAIO: ... on suspicion, not just -- I'm not going to get into all that, Neil. There's a whole list of them...
CAVUTO: But you're not afraid that you're being backed into a legal corner, Sheriff, and that this might be taken advantage of by feds, ICE and some of these others, maybe the Obama administration itself, the Justice Department itself, to land you in jail?
ARPAIO: No, I'm in a political quandary. This is all politics.
And it's bad, bad decisions that the Homeland Security and the White House is making, because I'll tell you why. They want amnesty. And if they're not going to accept people here illegally that we show we have probable cause or suspicion, that means they're hitting the streets. That's what the problem is. They're getting a pass.
That's what it's all about. And it's going to continue. And the criteria will be different as time goes on by the federal government. So, this is amnesty, period.
CAVUTO: All right, Joe Arpaio, it's always a pleasure, Sheriff. Thank you very much.
ARPAIO: Thank you.
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